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ATS Coupe Design Review

February 17th, 2014 No comments

The Cadillac ATS coupe may not seem like big news in the design world. After all, we have had a full model year to admire the ATS sedan on the roads. After witnessing the dramatic styling of the original CTS coupe with that car’s sedan counterpart, one could be forgiven into thinking that the new ATS coupe is nothing but the ATS sedan with few doors. To draw such a conclusion, however, would be to overlook the incredible attention to detail the Cadillac designers exhibited in creating the latest two-door Cadillac. The end result is a coupe that is readily recognizable as an ATS, and yet is simultaneously more expressive in design and more emotional to view. Certainly this is the type of design that once made coupes unquestionably more desirable than the sedans on which they were based. To help understand just why the ATS coupe is such an attractive design we can compare and contrast with the already handsome ATS sedan. Read more…

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Design Critique

January 14th, 2013 No comments
 
     We’ve never been given the task to design a car, much less one as sacred to the automotive faithful as the long running Chevrolet Corvette. The look of such a car must be a challenge to the designers in order to balance the continuation of the legend while reinventing and innovating to keep the car fresh and competitive. It is much easier for those of us on this side of the drawing board to praise or criticize each generation of Corvette. At the end, however, it is the consumer and enthusiast who decides the success and failure of each successive automotive generation. We’re critics though and we know what we like and we know Corvette history. Unfortunately this new car, which revives the Stingray name, did not immediately take our breath away. Even so we must remember our original thoughts when casting our gaze on the C5 Corvette, which is now considered the car that revolutionized what it meant to bear the beloved name. That car didn’t immediately strike us as beautiful then either. Certainly we can praise the upgraded interior and speculate on what it will feel like to row through seven gears. What we can’t predict is whether the C7 will grow better with age or be remembered as the car that broke the Corvette’s beauty streak.

2013 Toyota Avalon Design Critique

November 19th, 2012 No comments

  

      The Toyota Avalon has been with us for much longer than seems possible. When it debuted as a 1995 model, it was credited with being ‘Toyota’s Buick.’ Whether that was intended as an insult or a compliment depends on how you felt about Buicks at the time, but we’ll speculate those making the assessment weren’t referring to the LT1 V8-powered Roadmaster, but rather the somewhat smaller LeSabre or even the 13-year old Century. In any case, the Avalon has continued to be a plusher, larger, softer variation of the Camry. Like the Camry, the Avalon has remained fairly anonymous. Indeed, its styling was likely created with the intent of being used as a template for the ‘anycars’ used in various automotive supply advertisements.  Read more…

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Chevrolet Mi-ray Concept (Design Critique)

April 12th, 2011 No comments

      Over the past fifteen years or so, automakers seem to have struggled to develop compelling forward thinking concept cars. Those concepts that were not retro in nature seem to be simply too bizarre to be attractive, or are overly obvious predictions of production models that are just around the corner. We should celebrate, then, the Chevrolet Mi-ray Concept. Read more…

2012 Volkswagen Passat (Design Critique)

January 27th, 2011 No comments

     Once upon a time, Volkswagen was known for selling simple and inexpensive cars. The unconventional simplicity of the automaker’s designs carried over into the brand’s straightforward nomenclature designating its vehicles as the Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. Somewhere in its history, VW decided to be more than just the company that provided Beetles and Microbuses. Read more…

2010 Jaguar XJL (Design Critique)

December 30th, 2010 No comments

      After nearly two decades of unprofitableness under the ownership of Ford, Jaguar management has been quite eager to re-establish the British brand as a viable automaker. Jaguars have long been considered beautiful cars, but somehow that has failed to make them sell in volumes that would make the brand profitable. Starting with the XF, Jaguar has attempted to bring some modern shapes and designs into the fold, abandoning the overtly classic looking S-type and XJ sedans. The new XJ and XJL are an even greater departure from classic Jaguar sedans. Where the XF was a departure for Jaguar, it would have been a controversial design for any automaker due to its unconventionally styled D-pillar. It is a shame that the designers felt compelled to push the boundaries of automotive design, because the rest of the XJ design seems to work quite well. Read more…

BMW 6 Series Coupe Concept (Design Critique)

September 25th, 2010 1 comment

      There was little doubt that as BMW finished out the millennium with updated 3 and 5 series lineups, that the Bavarian automaker’s design language was beginning to look a bit stale. Rather than introduce yet another attractively conservative redesign, the 2002 7-series turned BMW’s design language from cautiously good looking to garishly daring. The revived 2003 6-series coupe followed closely to the 7’s bold new themes.  Read more…

2011 Ford Explorer (Design Critique)

July 29th, 2010 5 comments

      As the Ford Explorer enters into its 21st model year, the vehicle itself attempts to redefine a segment which it led through years of prosperity. Once referred to as the ‘compact SUV,’ the genre has changed in recent years. The original Explorer was little more than a lightly re-skinned Bronco II offered in 2-door and stretched 4-door form. Eventually the 2-door would vanish and the 4-door would add a third row of seats, but one thing stayed constant all those years: body-on-frame construction. For 2011 Ford is taking a small gamble that SUV buyers don’t really care about what type of platform their vehicle is based on. Read more…

2010 Ford Taurus (Design Critique)

May 22nd, 2010 5 comments

     Since the mid-1990s rumors of the demise of the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis twins have perpetuated through the automotive press. GM’s relatively unexpected discontinuation of the Caprice in 1996 gave extra boost to the Crown Vic’s sales. Unfortunately, with no competition Ford’s Panther platform soldiered on year after year with changes that were often transparent to their aging target audience. Read more…

Bidding Farewell to the New Beetle (Design Critique)

May 10th, 2010 1 comment

      In 1994 VW showed a concept car that was immediately recognizable as drawing its inspiration from the vintage Beetle.  Originally ‘dubbed the Concept One (pun intended), the car would be modified into the production New Beetle.  While a successful design in many regards, this reborn Beetle failed to fully capture the spirit of the original.  Now facing its final model year after 13 long years of production, the New Beetle looks as aged as any of its contemporaries from 1998. Read more…